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Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman

There was one issue which they took issue with regarding the law.  They were against the “criminal sanctions.”  Just to clarify, the law says that if the goals are not met, then a full draft will apply to haredim just like the rest of Israeli society with the elite masmidim not having to serve. It doesn’t mention jail.  It doesn’t mention arresting yeshiva boys.  It says the regular draft will apply.  Since for the rest of Israeli society, failure to show up when drafted is a criminal offense, the same would apply to haredim in that situation. The Yesh Atid platform did not have this component as part of the law.  We knew it would be an issue for the haredi world even if it was just theoretical but there will never be police entering yeshiva dormitories and arresting the boys.  So why was it included?

The government attorneys explained that the reason why we were writing a law to begin with was because the Supreme Court demanded that the Knesset pass a law with “equality.” If there was no clause in the law which mentioned the possibility of a full draft if the goals were not met, the law suits which would come on the heels of the law’s passage would not pass the test of the Supreme Court and we would be back to trying to draft another law.


Some suggested that the law outline economic sanctions towards haredim who don’t serve as opposed to the implied criminal sanctions.  The problem with this suggestion is that, once again, the Supreme Court would turn to the Knesset and say the consequences of not serving must be equal for all – either criminal or economic.  Economic won’t work because then we would have a scenario in which the wealthy would avoid service and the poor would serve.  Thus, it was left as is with a regular draft if the goals are not met. There is one part of the law which is not sufficiently condoned in yeshiva circles.  It used to be that those who learned Torah were given an exemption from serving.  This law changes that.  All of Am Yisrael serves.  We are one people and no one is exempt from serving the nation.  The Torah learning of those who do not serve in the army or national service will be counted as their service to the Jewish people.  This is stipulated in the law.  Torah learning is now categorized as serving the state and the people of Israel by law and Yair Lapid has said that this is one of the accomplishments he is most proud of s in our short first term in office.

As for the question of whether the law is working and whether haredim are coming to serve in the IDF as a result of it, I will turn to a source other than me, so as not to be accused of being subjective in my answer.  The following is from Israel National News on February 21 of this year:

“Despite continuing protests by groups of haredi community members against IDF service, more members of the community are joining the army than ever before, Yonatan Bransky said. Branksy is the Chairman of the Netzah Yehuda organization, which consists of veterans of the IDF and rabbis in the haredi community.  The protests, which have been going on for months, are the work of just a small, but loud, minority in the community, said Bransky. ‘I think most of the community just ignores them,” he said. “Everyone understands the importance of working together.’ Among other things, Netzach Yehuda arranges ceremonies for haredi soldiers, such as their graduation from basic training to regular service units. The latest ceremony was held Thursday, and Bransky said that it went very well.

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Rabbi Lipman, a member of the 19th Knesset, is the author of the recently-published “Coming Home: Living in the Land of Israel in Jewish Tradition and Thought” (Gefen Publishing).